As Massachusetts voters prepare to vote Tuesday in a special election to fill the Senate seat occupied by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy for 46 years, the candidates in the high-profile fight are pulling out all the stops.
"Every vote matters, every voice matters. We need you on Tuesday," Obama is shown saying at the rally, where, in a scramble to keep the seat, he held a last-minute pep rally for Coakley, 56, and attempted to excite the Democratic base that dominates the state.
The fight for Kennedy's old Senate seat has gone down to the wire between Coakley and Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, 50.
A longtime Democratic stronghold, Massachusetts is the last place Democrats would expect to become a battleground state. Both campaigns have spent millions of dollars in commercials, and volunteers have made hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and have come from as far away as Walla Walla, Wash. But the race is bigger than just Massachusetts. At stake is the president's health care reform initiative.
If the special election Tuesday goes to Brown, Senate Democrats will lose the filibuster-proof 60-seat majority they currently enjoy. They need 60 votes to pass a health care bill and other Democratic priorities over Republican objections.
Brown, a lawyer and former model, has vowed to vote against health care overhaul if he is elected.
"As the 41st senator I can at least allow them to, you know, maybe look at things a little differently," Brown told ABC News in an interview.
Today Coakley invoked the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to make her pitch.
"If Dr. King were here today, he'd be standing with us," she said. "And I know that he would be standing with us on the front line for health care, not as a privilege but as a right."
If Massachusetts Coakley loses, as polls indicate she might, Democrats want to be in a position to get a health-care bill through the Senate before Brown is sworn in, which wouldn't leave Democrats much time to hash out a compromise between the House and Senate bills.
Sources say that in case of a Democratic loss, the White House would want the House to vote directly on the bill the Senate passed on Christmas Eve. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has told White House officials they don't have enough votes to pass that version, but administration officials argue that if it's not the Senate bill, there may not be any health care overhaul.
If Brown wins and turns the seat Republican, another idea Democrats are discussing would have Senate Democrats force the bill through by bypassing normal Senate rules and passing the legislation through reconciliation, which requires only 50 votes. That would allow some moderates to peel away.
"There's no question that the president's domestic agenda hangs in the balance," said Democratic commentator Donna Brazile.
Brown is running a campaign appealing to voter anxiety over the economy.
In the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62 percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track.
"Call it anger, call it frustration, call it sadness, call it whatever you want," Brown told ABC News.
Brown says he is an independent Republican, but could not say how he would vote differently than Republicans in Washington.